Our beautiful Harriet gently and gracefully crossed the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. This morning, Don wrote:
My first story about Harriet celebrated her first year with us at Morning Bray Farm, this story is about her second and final year. We began to notice in early spring that Harriet was losing weight, so like any parents, we decided to spare no expense in making her right again. So began our journey with Harriet that ended yesterday, Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 12:51 pm.
Harriet always took things in stride, gently and gracefully. She let us fuss over her, poking and prodding trying to find the nature of her illness. One night, she was especially bad, so we called in our vet because Harriet was obviously in pain, and not herself at all. After several shots and procedures that involved shoulder length gloves, she began to perk up, probably to get us to stop, but it appeared that the danger had passed. On a chilly morning not long after, she ate breakfast and loaded up on the trailer for a ride to the Blue Ridge Equine Clinic in Charlottesville. She met new people who also wanted to poke and prod, but being Harriet, she greeted everyone as family. So many people took an interest in Harriet, as she was once again standing among race and show horses, commanding attention. She was there for an ultrasound and it was hard to see through her thick winter coat, so out came the clippers. We all braced ourselves for her to throw us around the room, but she only sighed and stood perfectly still. It took about a half hour (and two sets of clippers) to cut a path. We felt sorry for the million dollar horses who were not getting any attention because Harriet had every doctor and intern in the facility loving on her. The ultrasound showed that her intestine walls were thickened, so she was unable to absorb any nutrients from her food. Because of her age, the diagnosis was cancer.
After the ultrasound Harriet came home to her herd who was waiting to hear all about her adventure. It was still cold out, so we decided to put a blanket on her to help insulate where she’d been shaved. Big mistake. The others gasped in horror at the sight of the blue thing that had attacked poor Harriet and ran away snorting and pooping to the top of the pasture. Not knowing what was going on Harriet ran after them, braying and pleading for them to stop. After two days of this, we gave up and left the blanket off. It’s kind of funny to think about now, but at the time it was so sad to watch. Harriet became an eating machine: equine senior feed, alfalfa cubes, her absolute favorite rice bran, and all the hay she could eat. She had good days and bad days, most were good though. Harriet demanded her food on schedule and was given anything she wanted.
Love and attention is what she craved the most. She was given all we had, no meal passed without hugs, rubs, and scratches. She still enjoyed kisses and having her head held close to our bodies. This went on for months, we’d given up on trying to medicate her, nothing worked anyway, so love and comfort was what she got. For her part, Harriet returned our love even on days when she felt bad. Always sweet-natured and kind, she never failed to bring a smile to our faces.
A week ago, we made the decision to have our vet assist Harriet on her way. Yesterday morning Justina got up before dawn and went to the barn to spend the morning spoiling Harriet. It was raining, not a downpour, but a steady, relentless rain. While Harriet was eating the biggest breakfast of her life, a group of geese flew over, low and honking, our darling Fergus was checking in on her. When she’d had her fill, Harriet joined her herd in the side pasture. We sat with them under a tree in the rain watching our girl enjoy the morning. The rain let up, so Harriet took the opportunity to lay down near us, she was tired and ready. When the doctor pulled in, the sun came out, it really did. With her herd around her, Harriet laid down one last time. We were on the ground with her looking into her big beautiful eyes when she passed. Gently and gracefully another beautiful soul left our lives, and she went to meet her brother Fergus. When the door on the Paws and Remember trailer closed it began to rain again. Our morning of love and appreciation ended and our afternoon of mourning began.
Please join us in grieving her loss, but take time to remember how she touched everyone’s life as well. Let her do what she did best, bring a smile to your face, and touch your heart.
This is Don’s first story about Harriet from December 2013:
Harriet’s first year at Morning Bray Farm seems to have flown by. Our friends at LEAN have asked us to give a recap of our lovely girl’s first year.
Harriet arrived last December to an overjoyed family. It really seemed like we were expecting a child, weeks (instead of months) of excitement followed by extreme happiness upon her arrival. Since she arrived late in the evening, we set her up in a separate corral area in anticipation of the next day’s meet and greet with her new herd.
The next morning Harriet’s new Mom and Dad were up early and ready to start the interaction phase. We let the boys in one at a time, starting with Bernard of course. Harriet immediately chased him away, not unexpected. Then one by one she was introduced to her new family, saving Ellsworth for last. He was visibly upset that another stranger was joining the family, and went after Harriet right away. Harriet, being much larger than Ellsworth was not having any of it. The kicking and snorting was a little scary, but Ellsworth soon learned that not only was Harriet not going to back down, but the kicks to the chest were starting to hurt. Everything calmed down in about an hour, and they just agreed to disagree. Over the next several months Harriet became a natural part of the herd and even allowed Ellsworth to keep his job as herd leader.
Besides being very gentle and loving, we soon found out that Harriet could really belt out an ear-splitting bray. For the first several months she brayed almost non-stop. We couldn’t figure out if she just missed her old home or her foster home and was just unhappy, or quite possibly the bossiest donkey on Earth. It seemed like most of braying was going on at night, probably because we couldn’t sleep through it. Linda Carson of The 7MSN Ranch looked into our sandbagged eyes one day and suggested leaving a light on at night. Like a gift from the Sandman himself, the nightly singing ceased. These days our beautiful girl brays to greet us when we come out in the morning and when our cars pull in the driveway in the evenings. There’s no better sound in this world than being greeted after a long day at work by Harriet.
When Harriet arrived she had problems with her feet. Years of neglect had nearly paralyzed her, but her journey to good health began at the time she was rescued by LEAN. She arrived at Morning Bray Farm only a few trimmings away from complete recovery. We’re happy to report that you would never know that there was ever anything wrong with her at all. She has made a complete recovery and now enjoys a good game of “gallop around the pasture” with her herd.
Harriet is never far from her herd these days, although she and Patrick compete for the title of last to the barn almost every day. I suppose if you’ve lived as hard a life as those two, a leisurely stroll to enjoy the world around you is the most important thing that you can do.
It’s funny, but Harriet is not a big fan of grooming. She will walk out from under a brush almost as soon as it touches her. However, she will let you hold her head and hug her for extended periods of time. She will completely release herself to a good hug, and the weight of her head in our arms is a beautiful thing to feel. In that aspect, she is completely different from the rest of her herd; everyone else turns away and backs into you for a good butt scratch. It’s a welcome change to pet her beautiful face instead of facing the other end.
Harriet has brought so much joy to our life here at Morning Bray Farm. Her gentle and loving nature is unrivaled. The way she looks at you with her soulful eyes will melt even the hardest of hearts. We have been so blessed to share this last year with her, and look forward to many more to come.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Oh, how we’ll miss you, Baby Girl. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥